06/11/2012 10:47 am ET

Soy Won't Help Memory In Aging Women: Study

Adding soy to your diet may benefit your health, as it is high in protein and fiber, but a new study has shown that consuming soy for a cognitive boost has no benefit for aging women.

The study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine and the USC Keck School of Medicine studied women ages 45 to 92 and found that those who received a daily dose of isoflavone-rich soy protein did not show a significant boost in brain health on memory, thinking, or reading tests. The study appears in the June 5 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Dr. Victor Henderson of Stanford University told Time:

"Most studies have been small and have conflicting findings. Our study is one of the largest, and finds that overall, soy has no effect on cognitive function. The take home is that soy is nutritious and has a lot to recommend, but should not be taken with the expectation of cognitive benefits."

While soy won't provide a boost to brain health in aging women, it has been shown to help in one specific area of concern -- menopause. Research has shown the benefits of soy isoflavones, found in soy, may ease the symptoms of hot flashes from menopause for some women.

Researchers at the University of Delaware found in a series of studies that women who took 54 milligrams of soy isoflavones each day for six months to a year, saw a decrease in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. Soy isoflavones can be taken as supplements or can be found in foods such as soy nuts and edamame.

In addition, soy from foods is linked with lower risks of breast and endometrial cancer in studies, WebMD reports. That was one of the findings of a working group led by Wulf Utian, MD, PhD, ScD, a consultant in women's health and executive director emeritus of the North American Menopause Society. The same meta-study suggested the benefits for cardiovascular health are uncertain.